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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary

Comparative Description

NOTES: This section examines the sentencing parameters point values, as follows:

  • The Criminal Punishment Codeallows for a non-state prison sanction for offenders scoring 44.0 or less total points.
  • The Code mandates state prison as the sanction, unless the sentence is mitigated, for all those offenders whose total points exceed 44.0.

This means that only those offenders scoring 44 or less points may receive a non state prison sanction under the Code. All others must receive a state prison sanction, absent downward departure from this structure.

Florida Statute 921.0026 allows for circumstances or factors that reasonably justify the downward departure of Guidelines/Code scoresheet.

In addition, on January 24, 2002 the Supreme Court of Florida ruled in Jones v. State that Section 948.01(3) F.S. (supp. 1998), which allows for the sanction of drug offender probation in the case of a chronic substance abuser, provides an alternative sentencing scheme for drug offenders that is outside the Code. It was ruled that the trial court had the discretion to sentence the defendant to drug offender probation even though the Code mandated prison time.

Actual sanctions imposed, including state prison, community control, probation, county jail/time served, and other sanctions are presented and compared to the categories listed above.

FINDINGS:

  • Across the state, 17.9% of offenders were sentenced to state prison as the most severe sanction in FY2002-2003. An additional 21.5% were sentenced to incarceration in county jail, or to time already served in jail. Nearly eight percent (7.7%) were sentenced to community control, and over half to probation (52.1%), including drug offender probation, administrative probation, and regular probation. Less than one percent of offenders were sentenced to "other" sanctions. For sentencing dates in FY2001-2002, 16.9% of offenders were sentenced to state prison and 22.9% were sentenced to county jail or time served. Less than eight percent (7.7%) were sentenced to community control, and 52.0% to probation. Only 0.5% of the offenders were sentenced to "other" sanctions (Table 1).
  • More than three-quarters of the 82,001 Code scoresheets with sentence date in FY2002-2003 examined (62,670 scoresheets or 76.4%) scored 44 points or less (Table 1). These scoresheets represent sentencing events where the judge has the discretion to sentence the offender to either a non-state prison sanction or a state prison sanction. If the judge chose to sentence the offender to state prison, the judge had the discretion to sentence the offender up to the statutory maximum of the law. For scoresheets with sentence dates in FY2001-2002, there were 62,237 (76.5%) offenders scoring 44 points or less (Table 1).
  • For FY2002-2003, of the offenders scoring in the recommended state prison category, 53.7% were sentenced to state prison, with another 12.0% sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring less than 44 points, 6.3% were sentenced to state prison, and 24.9% to county jail/time served. For FY2001-2002, nearly fifty-four percent if the offenders scoring above 44 points were sentenced to state prison (53.7%) and another 12.0% of these offenders were sentenced to county jail or time served. Of those scoring less than 44 points, 5.6% were sentenced to state prison, and 26.2% to county jail/time served. (Table 1).
  • Scoresheets with a state prison sanction increased one percent from 16.9% in FY2001-2002 to 17.9% in FY2002-2003. Conversely, county jail sanctions decreased from 22.9% in FY2001-2002 to 21.5% in FY2002-2003. Community supervision sanctions remained constant. (Table 1).
  • Statewide, 73.3% of offenders receiving a prison sanction scored out to a prison sanction. Table 2 presents the scoring distribution of offenders under the Code for FY2001-2002 and FY2002-2003 by circuit and sanction imposed. In FY2002-2003, circuit 8 (Gainesville) had the highest percentage (90.9%) of prison sanctioned scoresheets with more than 44 points while circuit 19 (Ft. Pierce) has the lowest (54.7%).
  • Incarceration rates vary greatly by county and circuit. Jail sanctions also vary greatly depending on the number of beds available and judicial inclination to use the jail sanction. Table 3 presents the distribution of sanction imposed by circuit and county. Although variance in sentencing does exist at the circuit and county level based on the judge involved, variability in the statistics presented in this table could also be as a result of differences in the type of offenders being sentenced around the state. There are also very small numbers of scoresheets for some of the counties listed in this table. The incarceration rates for counties with less than 100 scoresheets could possibly be misleading. (Table 3).
  • In both FY2001-2002 and FY2002-03 the majority of violent offenders received a state prison sanction (Table 4).
  • The percentage of burglary, property and drug offenders receiving a state prison sanction increased from FY2001-2002 to FY2002-2003 (Table 4).
  • As would be expected, scoresheets with the highest offense severity levels received a state prison sanction, those with the lowest received probation and community control fell in the middle with the majority having levels 5 through 8 (Table 5).
  • Consistently in FY2001-2002 and FY2002-2003, for offenders sentenced to state prison, the majority with offense severity levels of 1 through 5 received less than two years and those with offense level 10 received more than ten years (Table 6).
  • From FY2001-2002 to FY2002-2003 the percentage of scoresheets with no prior record decreased while those with prior misdemeanors or one felony increased. The percentage with four or more felonies remained constant (Table 7).
  • Similarly, from FY2001-2002 to FY2002-2003 the percentage of scoresheets with no additional offenses decreased while those with misdemeanors or one felony increased. The percentage with four or more felonies remained constant (Table 8).
  • Within the Code policy, a true mitigation occurs when an offenders scores more than 44 total points and either receives a non-state prison sanction (except drug offender probation) or a state prison sentence length below the 25% permissible discretion. Sanction mitigation occurs when an offender scores more than 44 total points, but receives a non-state prison sanction (except drug offender probation).
  • The true mitigation rate for offenders that scored more than 44 total points is 59.2% for FY2001-2002 and 56.8% for FY2002-2003. The sanction mitigation rate (cases that scored to state prison but received a non-state prison sanction) was 45.2% for FY2001-2002 and 42.8% for FY2002-2003 (Table 11).
  • For the offenders that received a mitigated prison sentence length, the average reduction in sentence was 26.2 months during FY2001-2002 and 24.2 months during FY2002-2003 (Table 11).
  • Departure, as defined here, is not a comment on the legality of the sentence. There are many reasons for departure, which are recognized as legitimate under Florida Statute 921.0026. In addition, other Statutes, such as F. S. 948.034, establish special conditions allowing for departures from recommended sentences. Database limitations do not allow us to isolate all these reasons for departure.

Table 1 Recommended Sanction Category by Sanction Imposed

Sanction Imposed Recommended Sanction Category
FY 2001-2002
Sentence Dates
1
FY 2002-2003
Sentence Dates
2
44.0 Points or Less More than 44.0 Points Total 44.0 Points or Less More than 44.0 Points Total
State Prison 3,503 10,281 13,784 3,919 10,770 14,689
5.6% 53.7% 16.9% 6.3% 55.7% 17.9%
Community Control 4,525 1,772 6,297 4,509 1,795 6,304
7.3% 9.3% 7.7% 7.2% 9.3% 7.7%
Probation 37,555 4,720 42,275 38,067 4,664 42,731
60.3% 24.7% 52.0% 60.7% 24.1% 52.1%
County Jail 16,320 2,296 18,616 15,621 2,003 17,624
26.2% 12.0% 22.9% 24.9% 10.4% 21.5%
Other 334 60 394 554 99 653
0.5% 0.3% 0.5% 0.9% 0.5% 0.8%
Total 62,237 19,129 81,366 62,670 19,331 82,001
100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
*Total points greater than 44.
1Offense dates on or after October 1, 2000.
2Offense dates on or after October 1, 2001.
Sanction Imposed for offenders scoring in the state prison sanction category.